More than 100 nurse executives, staff-development educators, and staff nurses from New York City’s Health & Hospitals Corporation (HHC) met on December 15, 2005, for a day of training to improve their skills in caring for older adults. The training was jointly sponsored by The John A. Hartford Foundation Institute for Geriatric Nursing and the Consortium of New York Geriatric Education Centers, both housed at NYU College of Nursing, under the auspices of a New York City Council grant for geriatric education.

The session, Getting Serious About Caring for Older Adults-an Expanding Population, was attended by representatives from 15 HHC ambulatory, acute, and long-term care facilities, as well as home-care services and the central administration. It was hosted by Harlem Hospital Center, which provided space, catering, and support services.

As the nation’s largest municipal health care system-which cares for all patients who walk through its doors-the HHC is a vast, five-borough system that is preparing itself for the needs of aging New Yorkers. The Harford Institute for Geriatric Nursing works to shape the quality of health care that older Americans receive by promoting the highest level of geriatric competency in all nurses who deliver care. The Consortium of New York Geriatric Education Centers is part of a national network of geriatric education centers that seeks to meet the health needs of a growing population of older adults.

“Given the statistics for longevity in our nation and city, we are seeing more older patients,” says Marie Ankner, RN, MS, CNAA, assistant vice president for nursing for HHC. “There is a need to enhance nurses’ sensitivity and develop competencies in this area. We also want to provide best practices and provide the best care to our patients and their families.”

The conference keynote address was given by Mathy Mezey, EdD, RN, FAAN, director of The John A. Hartford Foundation Institute for Geriatric Nursing. The morning training sessions focused on core health issues that relate to older adults. The event focused particularly on differentiating between delirium and dementia in hospitalized patients-a frequent challenge for nursing staff. Participants joined break-out groups in the afternoon to focus on how to increase their commitment to geriatrics according to the type of work they do. Staff development educators received an update on the Hartford Institute’s geriatric resources and how they can be incorporated into system-wide trainings. Staff nurses received additional clinical training, and for executives, the emphasis was on taking a leadership role in geriatrics. At the end of the day, nurses regrouped with other staff from their hospitals to develop action plans to take back to colleagues.

“We are so pleased that, with Marie Ankner’s leadership, HHC has made a significant commitment to high-quality care for older adults,” says Elaine Gould, director for programs of the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing.

“The participants were extremely enthusiastic in terms of the program as a whole, and many have already brought their action plans before their departmental or hospital leadership,” says Ms. Ankner, adding, “The opportunity for each nursing population to consult with their counterparts from other facilities was especially important.”

The College of Nursing at the College of Dentistry is located on New York University’s historic Greenwich Village campus in New York City. The College of Nursing is one of the leading nursing programs in the United States. The College offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Master of Arts and Post-Master’s Certificate Programs; and a Doctor of Philosophy in Research Theory and Development. For more information, visit

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